Unsung Heroes: The Contribution of Nurses over the years

Nurses are the unsung heroes of the global fight against a novel virus and a deadly pandemic threatening mass extinction. But as we examine the history of nursing, we realize that these unsung heroes have served humanity for decades without due acknowledgment. Tracing the contributions of nurses to modern-day healthcare takes us back to the times of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.

Interestingly, nursing roles first emerged centuries ago, in 300 AD, when the Roman Empire constructed hospitals in each town within its territories. Over the years, nursing has evolved from tending to battle-ravaged soldiers and administrative duties to advanced clinical expertise and primary healthcare duties. However, Florence Nightingale is credited as the first nurse in history, setting the dynamics that led to modern nursing standards.

Modern-day nurses stand at the pinnacle of clinical authority and healthcare innovation, leading facilities towards the highest quality and patient safety standards. Gone are the days when nursing was a career path limited to women. Today, professionals from all genders can explore diverse clinical specializations.

How do nurses contribute to clinical care and healthcare standards? Keep reading to learn more.

Improving Care Quality with Clinical Expertise

Nursing roles are rapidly evolving beyond secretarial roles and physician assistants, carving out more clinical authority for qualified professionals. Highly qualified and skilled nurse practitioners emerge as dynamic clinical leaders, propelling healthcare facilities towards continual improvement. Nurses who pursue higher education, clinical certifications, and specializations work directly with patients and families, treating illnesses and administering medications.

There’s a growing demand for nurses in numerous roles, such as family nurse practitioners (FNPs), cardiac care, pediatric care, and gerontological nursing. Qualifications matter significantly, as nurses must meet clinical care requirements to obtain licensure and treat patients. Registered nurses can begin their journey towards clinical advancement with an online RN to BSN program to develop specialized skills.

There’s a growing demand for BSN-prepared registered nurses, with job growth projections of over 9%. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that forecasts predict over 200,000 jobs for skilled BSN nurses by 2029. It’s wise to avoid delaying your BSN degree, especially if you’re ambitious and vying to secure leadership roles. BSN is merely a stepping stone towards clinical specializations that demand extensive training with an MSN program.

The sky is the limit for nursing ambitions, and opportunities come to those who prioritize higher education and skill-building. Nurse leaders pursue doctoral programs to cement their practice with clinical expertise and leadership skills. Combining an online degree with a full-time nursing schedule offers ample flexibility, allowing you to learn and grow at your chosen pace.

Risking their Lives to Save Others

It is rightly said that nursing is not a career; instead, it’s a spiritual calling that consumes humans with empathy. The coronavirus pandemic is a fine example demonstrating the dedication and passion that inspires people to pursue nursing. The ongoing fight against the novel COVID-19 virus propelled nurses to the forefront of emergency care.

Nurses worldwide actively collaborated with their peers to fight against the novel virus and save precious lives. It’s crucial to note that nurses maintain direct contact with patients, handling more patient engagement than other care providers. Doctors and physicians don’t have as much direct contact as nurses, who manage all aspects of hospitalization and primary care.

Nurse practitioners risked their own lives and wellbeing and the safety of their loved ones to stay committed to their calling. Hundreds and thousands of nurses abandoned their families and maintained social isolation to avoid spreading the virus. The fear of coming in direct contact with the virus didn’t deter them from nursing COVID-19 patients back to health.

The World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that over 115,000 healthcare providers died globally after contracting COVID-19. Nurses had to wear uncomfortable protective gear and bear excruciating discomfort to attend to their duties with utmost safety standards. Industry projections indicate that over 1500 nurses across more than 40 countries lost their lives to the noble fight.

The sacrifices are monumental, for the COVID-19 pandemic has cast an unbearable burden for nursing professionals worldwide. And yet, nurses remain undeterred in their dedication to bend the curve and beat the novel virus.

Neglecting Self-Care for Patient Care & Safety

The rising shortages of skilled healthcare providers, nurses, and physicians have put registered nurses under overwhelming pressure. They are required to serve exhaustingly hectic 8-12 hour shifts, often working mandatory overtime to address staffing shortages. Concerns for patient wellbeing and safety constantly undermine pandemic or no pandemic, a nurse’s life quality.

Aside from the hectic routines and excessive workloads, nurses deal with overwhelming bouts of occupational stress. They perform in chaotic and stressful environments that demand utmost precision because the slightest errors can compromise patient safety. Nurses must administer the proper medication at the right time and ensure medical records are accurate.

The ongoing pandemic has further intensified occupational stress by increasing death rolls and life-and-death emergencies. These challenges exacerbate when nurses struggle to make time for self-care and coping with stress to elevate their mental wellbeing. Day after day, nurses make the hard choice of neglecting their challenges and health concerns to focus on their parents.

They can’t make time for self-care, family and friends, or social engagements because their work routines and ethics don’t allow such freedom. Despite these challenges, nurses undergo immense pressure to maintain efficiency and accuracy with acute mental preparedness.

Final Thoughts

The contributions of nurses are far too many to recount in a brief depiction of their services to humankind. These unsung heroes serve patients, families, and communities in numerous settings, such as hospitals, clinics, schools, and private facilities. They enrich our life quality with their care and compassion, helping us regain our physical and mental wellbeing.

Times are changing dramatically, and nurses are at the forefront of innovation. Modern-day nurses make monumental strides with career advancement, research-driven initiatives, and community service. Family nurse practitioners (FNPs) are taking over the primary care duties of physicians, while cardiac nurses assist surgeons with complicated surgical procedures.

However, nursing is a field that rewards higher education and continual learning while creating challenges for professionals with entry-level skills. Higher education is the only viable route to nursing leadership and professional glory.